Ministry Staff


Debbie Coss

Diaconal Minister

Email: dcosswork at

First off what’s a Diaconal Minister?: Currently in the United Church of Canada, in addition to the many important forms of lay ministry, we have two order of ministry streams: ordained (which is the ministry that most people are familiar with) and diaconal. The Greek word diakonia means “service”. Diaconal ministers carry out all kinds of ministries, most often in the areas of education, service, and pastoral care. Diaconal ministers can serve in both teams and solo ministries including responsibility for worship leadership and the sacraments of baptism and communion. The difference between ordained and diaconal is often described as not function but rather focus or lens. In whatever ministry diaconal ministers are called to serve we bring an educational and transformational change lens.

Vitals: Born December 1st, 1973 in Portage la Prairie, MB (my maiden name is Voss – which makes me a Voss Coss).

Family:  My husband, Jason, is a baker. We have two sons – Matthew and Nicholas. I’m an only child and my parents still live in my hometown of Portage.

The most influential persons in my life: My family.

What inspires me?  The enthusiasm, creativity, and wisdom of young people.

One thing that I love about SMRUC:  All of the ways that community is gathered together: the groups, the events, the meals.

Hobbies:  I began learning potter in the summer of 2015 and I LOVE it. Playing with the clay and getting my hands in there is so much fun. My instructor at the Stoneware Studio is like a pottery Yoda for me. I also love gardening, researching my family tree, and reading mysteries.

Life Long Goal:  To never stop learning, loving, and being loved.

Book: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, cozy mysteries especially anything by Agatha Christie or Carolyn Hart.
“Bad [people] need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good [people] should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill (1867)
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. “ F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan!” The Doctor (Doctor Who, 2011)
Movies: Moonstruck, Saved!
Television:  Doctor Who, Sherlock, Coronation Street (yes I do love the BBC!), Veronica Mars
Music: OneRepublic, Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas, Imagine Dragons, Marianas Trench, Edith Piaf, and Bing Crosby
Restaurant: Sun Fortune Restaurant on Pembina Highway or Dim Sum Gardens on King Street
Drink: Tea
Childhood Memory:  Playing outdoors at our family farm: going for long walks through the snow-covered fields and listening to the wind, planting gardens, and picking apples from the trees. I’m so thrilled my children get to experience this as well.


Philip Read

Philip Read


Email: phil.smruc at

Vitals: Born June 26th, 1980 in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Family: I am married to Dr. Aimee Patterson, an ethicist and love of my life. We have two sons – Julian and Theodore. We also have a very vocal and affectionate cat, Bijou.

The most influential persons in my life: My family and friends.

What inspires me? The belief that love is stronger than death and pain.

One thing that I love about SMRUC: The willingness to risk, to try something new and different.

Hobbies: Designing and building wood projects… often the designing happens as I go along.

Life Long Goal: To leave the world a little better than I received it.


Book: Toss-up between Anna Karenina, and Pride and Prejudice

Quotations: “All real living is meeting”-Buber; “God is Life”-Tolstoy

Movies: The Whale Rider, Dead Poets Society, Pride and Prejudice (BBC version only), and Groundhog Day

Television: How It’s Made, Antique Road’s Show

Music: anything sung by Serena Ryder

Restaurant: still sampling

Drink: President’s Choice Club Soda with a twist of lemon

Childhood Memory: Christmas mornings, the family sitting around in pajamas with torn wrapping paper and bows everywhere.


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SMRUC Emergency Food Box

Did you know that SMRUC has an emergency food box located in the Junction space? It is for use by those people who might walk in needing an emergency supply of food prior to the regular Food Bank day. It is sorted and some may be sent to West Broadway as well. Sometimes our box gets very low on supplies. Please bring non-perishable food whenever you can to keep it full. [ Items like tuna, soup, beans, peanut butter etc. ]

"I love that there are so many ways for my kids to be involved at SMRUC!"